coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 11/11/2013 12:57 PM in NFL

Arizona Cardinals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Preview and Pick

Arizona Cardinals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Preview and Pick

The Jacksonville Jaguars finally got their first win of the season when they defeated the Tennessee Titans. Now they are looking to get their second win this week when they host the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals will travel to the east coast after a big win at home against the Houston Texans. The Cardinals need to keep winning if they hope to have a shot at making the NFL post season. They must find a way to avoid the letdown against the hapless Jaguars.

The Arizona Cardinals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game has the Cardinals listed as (-7) point favorites. The Jags win a week ago did not influence bettors as the early betting returns at several sports consensus sites show that the Cardinals are getting nearly 70 percent of the betting action. Although the money is on the Cardinals, the point spread has actually dropped and it can now be found at (-6.5) at several of the top rated online sportsbooks.

The Cardinals are winning because of good play on defense. The Cardinals defense sent at least five rushers after Case Keenum on 23-of-48 dropbacks Sunday. Outside of a 2-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Griffin (a situation that would invite extra rushers), Arizona's pressure shut down the inexperienced Keenum. That pressure will have to continue on the road against the Jaguars if they want to continue winning. Jacksonville is one of the worst teams in the National Football League, but on any given Sunday they can win in this league, and that includes this week against the Cardinals.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveal some interesting football betting angles for this game. Arizona is 1-10 straight up in its last 11 games on the road and they are 6-15 straight up in its last 21 games. Arizona is 4-2 straight up in its last 6 games overall and the total has gone under in 15 of Arizona's last 23 games on the road. Jacksonville is 1-5 against the spread (ATS) in its last 6 games at home and 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games overall. Jacksonville is 1-13 straight up in its last 14 games and the total has gone over in 4 of Jacksonville's last 5 games. The total has gone over in 4 of Arizona's last 6 games on the road, but the total has gone under in 7 of Jacksonville's last 8 games at home.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/12/2013 03:57 PM

The Jaguars did a bit of validating on Sunday.

Now, their task is to keep doing that – and maybe to do it in front of a very good NFC team and in front of the home crowd.

The Jaguars, fresh from their first victory of the season and the first victory of Gus Bradley’s head coaching tenure, on Sunday will play host to one of the surprise teams of the 2013 NFL season – the Arizona Cardinals, who have won their last two games to play their way into playoff contention in a balanced NFC.

The Jaguars’ focus this week will be maintaining the momentum from Sunday’s 29-27 victory over the Tennessee Titans, a victory that snapped a 13-game regular-season losing streak.

The theme in the post-game locker room was that the victory was at least a touch of validation for the approach of Bradley, a first-year coach who players respect and whose philosophy they believe is the right way for the Jaguars to build.

Toward that end, Bradley has continued this week to talk not of getting a second consecutive victory, but of continuing to improve daily, with the idea that if that happens, victories will follow.

On the field, Chad Henne remains the starting quarterback for the Jaguars despite completing 14 of 23 passes for 180 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions Sunday. He has started six games this season, including the last four in succession, completing 146 of 241 passes for 1,630 yards and three touchdowns with seven interceptions.

Henne has started the last two games in place of a healthy Gabbert, and Bradley on Monday said Henne will start Sunday. He said Gabbert needs to be ready in the event of an injury to Henne, but gave no indication of a change at the position.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/12/2013 03:57 PM

The Cardinals (5-4) weren’t a consensus selection to contend for a playoff spot in Bruce Arians’ first season as head coach, but due in large part to one of the NFL’s most underrated defenses, they have played their way into the playoff conversation in the first nine games of the season.

While wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is easily Arizona’s most well-known player, it is the Cardinals’ defense that has them in postseason contention. They rank 13th in the NFL defensively overall – third against the run – with linebacker Daryl Washington, defensive ends Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett and cornerback Patrick Peterson all among the NFL’s best players at their positions. Cornerback Tyrann Mathieu has also quickly emerged as one of the league’s top rookies.

Quarterback Carson Palmer has struggled at times with 15 interceptions this season, and an issue that will face Arizona entering the second half of the season is its schedule. They are 4-1 at home, and have won just one of four road games. They’ll need to fare better on the road to make a serious playoff push. Sunday’s game is the first road game for Arizona since October 13

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/13/2013 03:01 PM

Coming off their first win of the season against the Tennessee Titans, the Jacksonville Jaguars have had some up and down since Sunday. On the downside, linebacker LeRoy Reynolds was suspended by the league for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances. On the upside, middle linebacker Paul Posluszny is the AFC defensive Player of the Week. Did we mention they won Sunday? A win after eight losses in a row is always an upside.

Reports on Reynolds’ suspension came to light Tuesday. The undrafted free agent has played in all nine of the Jags’ games this season, but he is now suspended for the next four games. He can return on Friday, Dec. 6 after the Jags play Thursday Night Football against the Houston Texans.

Reynolds will not be missed as much as suspended wide receiver Justin Blackmon. He has only six tackles this season and no interceptions or forced fumbles. Of course, every man on the field contributes something, but with numbers like this, it should not be difficult for the Jaguars to fill his spot.

Compared to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins, the Jaguars have not had nearly as much trouble in the way of controversy and roster shifts this season. They also have not been as competitive as the Bucs, losing every game by at least two touchdowns. Before Sunday, they never managed to put up more than 20 points in a game, and still got outscored by at least two touchdowns (Week 5 @ Rams 34-20). On Sunday, it seemed as though the Jaguars finally realized that whatever they were doing was not working, so they did something else, and that something else got them their first win.

Posluszny is a seven-year veteran linebacker and leads the Jaguars with 88 tackled this season, a forced fumble and two interceptions. To earn his Week 10 honors as DPW, Posluszny pulled off eight total tackles, five for them solo. He also recovered a fumble he forced, giving the Jaguars a much-needed boost. That fumble was his first this season. Both of his interceptions came in this game as well, and one of those ended up as a touchdown.

The Jaguars needed those take-aways, and now sit at -5 turnover ratio. This is one of the things they were not doing before the bye last week. They also weren’t doing much in the way of scoring, with only 11 touchdowns after Sunday’s game to their credit. The defense has not been very active either, with only 12 sacks credited over the course of nine games.

Perhaps over the bye, the Jags were able to take a closer look at themselves and their opponents. Whatever happened, it has given them a swing toward positive momentum that has been sorely missed in Jacksonville. On Sunday, the defense played. The offense played. When they both played well and played with a corresponding strategy, they won. Code cracked?

Perhaps the Grid-Iron Gods decided it was time to smile upon Jacksonville. As we all know, these gods can be capricious, so the Jaguar’s next game against the Arizona Cardinals will be a defining moment in the rest of their season. One is not data, two is not proof. Three? We may have a pattern.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/13/2013 03:03 PM

A pup tent could accommodate the people remaining in the camp of Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall, and even then there would be room for coach Bruce Arians and his Kangol caps.

It’s not often a running back rushes for 154 yards in his first start and then is benched the next game. Yet, that’s what happened to rookie Andre Ellington last Sunday when Mendenhall returned from a toe injury to start against the Texans.

Not only did Mendenhall start, he touched the ball (13 rushes, one reception) one more time than Ellington (11 rushes, two receptions), despite Ellington’s emergence as a more dangerous offensive threat.

Asked Monday about the division of labor at running back, Arians said, “I think it’s right where it needs to be.”

It’s an interesting point of view, because Arians said this off-season he’s not a believer in running back by committee. He wanted versatile backs, not specialty guys to fill niches, he said.

The situation he faces now, however, is that Ellington is the best back the Cardinals have, and it’s not close. To continue to divide the workload equally between Ellington and Mendenhall is stubborn at best and foolish at worst.

In a typical game, there will be at least 30 or so “touches” to distribute among the running backs. The game plan should be for Ellington to get at least 18 of them, with the rest of the work going to Mendenhall and Stepfan Taylor.

(Ryan Williams is out of this conversation because it appears the only way he will be activated is if two of the other four backs are injured.)

Ellington has gained more yards than Mendenhall (388 to 323) on slightly more than half the carries (54 to 105). His yards per carry (7.2) is more than double that of Mendenhall (3.1).

Remove Ellington’s 80-yard run against the Falcons, and his average is still far greater (5.8) than Mendenhall’s.

Arians’ concern about overworking Ellington has been justifiable, and the debate has a chicken-or-egg element.

Is Arians holding Ellington back?

Or has the limited workload kept Ellington fresh and explosive?

It’s a legitimate argument and good reason not to make Ellington into a workhorse such as Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson or Marshawn Lynch.

At least not this season.

Those three each average more than 20 rushing attempts and receptions a game.

This is not a call for Mendenhall to be deactivated. There is still a substantial role for him to play on Sundays, and despite his fumble in the final minutes last Sunday, Mendenhall showed he can help this offense.

A touchdown drive in the fourth quarter started with two handoffs and a pass to Mendenhall. He gained 8, 5 and 9 yards, and helped set up the play-action touchdown pass to receiver Andre Roberts.

It’s the best Mendenhall had looked since the game against Detroit in Week 2.

Yes, Mendenhall fumbled at the Cardinals 5, but it’s hard to place the entire blame on him. He had two hands on the ball and the officials waited a ridiculous amount of time to stop the play.

Ellington and Mendenhall can co-exist because of Ellington’s ability as a receiver. But like many other things with the offense, the Cardinals haven’t been able to take full advantage of it.

The Texans, for instance, often used a linebacker to cover Ellington when the running back flanked out.

Yet the Cardinals got the ball to him only twice, and both receptions came in the final minutes.

It’s another frustrating facet to this offense.

All of this has combined to make Mendenhall the new Levi Brown: the starter Cardinals fans would most like to see replaced.

But Mendenhall has the support of the man with the biggest office at the Cardinals complex, Arians, so a change that is overdue doesn’t appear imminent.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/14/2013 01:14 PM

Winless no longer, the Jacksonville Jaguars are confidently moving forward.

In pursuit of a third straight victory, the Arizona Cardinals have the postseason on their radar but won't look past the next opponent.

Trying to win consecutive games for the first time in three seasons, the Jaguars look to build on their first victory in almost a year when they host the surging Cardinals on Sunday.

Mired in a 13-game skid that dated to a 24-19 home win over Tennessee on Nov. 25, Jacksonville (1-8) took advantage of four Titans' turnovers to win 29-27 last Sunday in Nashville. In their highest-scoring game of the season, the Jaguars prevailed after losing their first eight games by an average margin of 22.3 points.

"It was kind of like (giving the) middle finger to all the people who want talk about the Jaguars not winning the game or being the worst 0-8 team in history," guard Uche Nwaneri said. "It's kind of, 'Eat this.' That's kind of how it feels."

Though the Jaguars enjoyed the moment, they're only focus is on trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 5-12, 2010.

"Coach (Gus Bradley) always talks about eating crumbs, and that's what we're going to do," center Brad Meester said. "Sometimes after you have that big win, you want to go out and eat that big meal, go out to Ruth's Chris. But it's about humility. You've got to continue to stay focused and not get overconfident because you've got one win.

"You've got to continue to do the things that you do, and that's what we need to do in here."

Jacksonville is still far from being a consistent winner - ranking last in the NFL averaging 12.8 points and 278.4 yards.

The Jaguars totaled 214 yards last Sunday, and though Maurice Jones-Drew opened the scoring with a 6-yard TD run, he finished with 41 yards on 21 carries. It's the sixth time he's been held to 45 or fewer rushing yards this season.

Chad Henne threw for 180 with two interceptions and no touchdowns. His only TD pass while starting the last four games went for 29 yards to Mike Brown during a 42-10 loss to San Francisco in London on Oct. 20.

The Jaguars have yet to score a TD in three games this season in Jacksonville, where they have been outscored 89-11.

Linebacker Paul Posluszny has a team-leading 88 tackles, but his status is uncertain after he suffered a concussion against the Titans. The Jaguars will be without reserve linebacker LaRoy Reynolds after he was been suspended four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Regardless of who is on the field, the Jaguars expect to face a stiff challenge against a Cardinals team looking to win three in a row for the first time since starting 4-0 last season.

Arizona (5-4) posted consecutive victories over underachievers Atlanta and Houston at home to put itself in the wild-card hunt. However, the Cardinals' only focus is toward the Jaguars and improving on their 1-3 road mark.

"Obviously, looking ahead will get you in trouble, but I like where we're at right now," coach Bruce Arians said.

"All of our focus is on Jacksonville. If we lose any sight of that, they'll beat us. They're playing really well right now."

The Cardinals have averaged 23.6 points in the last five games, and Carson Palmer threw two of his four touchdowns over the last two during last Sunday's 27-24 win over the Texans.

Palmer has thrown 15 interceptions this season, but one in each of the last two contests. He's thrown for 537 yards with three touchdowns and one pick in two career games versus Jacksonville.

Though the Cardinals rank 24th averaging 93.6 rushing yards per game, rookie Andre Ellington has averaged 7.2 per carry.

Defensively, the Cardinals returned a fumble for a TD last weekend, and have recorded at least three sacks in three straight games and four of the last five. In his 14th season and first with Arizona, John Abraham has recorded all of his team-leading five sacks in the last three games.

Arizona dropped its first two games with the Jaguars before winning 31-17 at Jacksonville in the most recent meeting in 2009.

Larry Fitzgerald has caught a touchdown pass in each of his two games versus Jacksonville.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/15/2013 12:55 PM

Given a 1-11 record in the final 12 games of the 2012 season, not many would have assumed looking past a foe would be a 2013 issue for the Arizona Cardinals.

But this week marks the perfect storm of opportunity and momentum.

Arizona's defeats of Atlanta and Houston in weeks 8 and 10, respectively, have put it in the position to win three straight for the first time since last September, when it reeled off season-opening victories over Seattle, New England, Philadelphia and Miami.

Week 11 brings a visit to EverBank Field and a meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are feeling their own oats after ending an eight-game losing streak last week at Tennessee.

"Looking ahead will get you in trouble, but I like where we're at right now," coach Bruce Arians said. "All of our focus is on Jacksonville. If we lose any sight of that, they'll beat us.

"They're playing really well right now."

Just 1-3 on the road alongside a 4-1 mark at home, the Cardinals have scored 23.6 points per game in their last five games. Quarterback Carson Palmer has thrown four touchdowns in the two victories in the Cardinals' existing win streak, including two last week in a 27-24 defeat of the Texans. Additionally, only two of his 15 interceptions in 2013 have come in those two wins.

He has three TDs and one INT in two lifetime meetings with Jacksonville.

Joining him in the backfield is rookie Andre Ellington, who's averaged 7.2 yards per carry and scored twice in nine games. Nonetheless, Arizona ranks just 24th in the league in rushing, averaging 93.6 rushing yards per game.

The defense chipped in with a fumble return for a touchdown last week and the unit has recorded at least three sacks in three consecutive games and in four of the last five. Veteran John Abraham, new to the Cardinals after 13 years in the NFL, has five in his last three games.

Arizona dropped 44-10 and 24-17 decisions to the Jaguars in 2000 and 2005, then scored its first defeat of Jacksonville, 31-17, when the teams last met in 2009. Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has played in the last two of those three games, catching a TD pass in both.

The Jaguars will enter the week looking to construct some momentum of their own.

Jacksonville hasn't won consecutive games since Dec. 5 and 12 in 2010, but has the chance after ending its 2013 drought with a 29-27 victory at Tennessee. Prior to defeating the Titans, the Jaguars hadn't won a game of any kind since defeating the same foe last November.

Jacksonville had been outscored in this season's eight defeats by a 22.3-point average margin and had heard more than a few suggestions of historical ineptitude.

"(It was a) middle finger to all the people who want talk about the Jaguars not winning the game or being the worst 0-8 team in history," guard Uche Nwaneri said. "It's kind of, 'Eat this.' That's kind of how it feels."

Ironically, coach Gus Bradley has tried to reel in his players' strutting in this week, though the team is still dead last in the NFL in scoring offense (12.8 points) and total offense (278.4 yards).

Maurice Jones-Drew carried 21 times for 41 yards and scored a TD against Tennessee as part of the team's 214 total yards. Quarterback Chad Henne threw for 180 yards and failed to produce a scoring pass while throwing two interceptions. His last TD throw was in a Week 8 loss to San Francisco - a 29- yarder to Mike Brown.

In three home games this season, the Jaguars have been outscored, 89-11, and have not scored a touchdown. The team could be without linebacker Paul Posluszny this week after he sustained a concussion against Tennessee and is deemed questionable. Definitely out of the fold is another linebacker, LaRoy Reynolds, who was suspended for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy.

"(Bradley) always talks about eating crumbs, and that's what we're going to do," center Brad Meester said. "Sometimes after you have that big win, you want to go out and eat that big meal, go out to Ruth's Chris. But it's about humility. You've got to continue to stay focused and not get overconfident because you've got one win. You've got to continue to do the things that you do, and that's what we need to do in here."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/15/2013 12:55 PM

Run rookie, run.

Ellington, a sixth-round steal for the Cardinals last April, has shown a penchant for gobbling big chunks of yardage through his first eight NFL appearances -- averaging at least five yards per carry in all but one of the games in which he's had at least three runs.

That big-play ability could come in handy against a Jacksonville defense that's worst in the league defending the run and has allowed 4.6 yards per run over nine games -- equaling an ugly 153 yards per week.

Take Palmer to the deep water.

A young Chad Pennington was the scourge of NFL defenses before coordinators realized he couldn't consistently complete deep throws. Seemingly overnight, the middle was taken away and Pennington became less a prolific passer and more a spunky game manager.

As a veteran in Arizona, Palmer has drifted far from the downfield persona he'd had in Cincinnati and is just 8-for-38 on throws of more than 20 yards. If the Jaguars can employ a Pennington strategy here, they jump a big hurdle to win No. 2.